Your Resolutions are a Waste of Time – Find a Better Way

And it’s 2015 – hooray!

If you’re among the 99.999999% of people (yep – that’s a made up statistic – just deal with it) that spent some time thinking about life, the universe and everything over Christmas and the new year, then there’s a good chance that you’ve set some goals for 2015.

If you read a few different blogs (don’t’ worry – I’m not offended) then you’ve almost certainly seen a bunch of posts and articles floating around about goals.

Those articles are mostly full of nice, airy fairy stuff about goal setting and making a new start, and similar encouraging mumblings.

Before you leap in towards NOT accomplishing those goals this year (which is, I suspect, what’s happened every previous year) how about considering something different instead?  Instead of doing the same thing this year – don’t.

What’s Wrong with Resolutions?

Here’s a typical new year resolution – “I’m going to spend more time with my family this year”.

Isn’t that nice?  I’ll bet that took a lot of effort to think of that one. But here’s my question – why didn’t you do it last year?  I mean – were your family all of a sudden a higher priority just after 11:59pm on 31 December?  Was there some amazing revelation to you which made it clear to you that your family was important?

What about another common one – losing weight.  In fact this is probably the most common goal ever, and yet is also the most infrequently fulfilled.  Why?  Because nothing happens on 1 January that makes things any different to 31 December.

But by far the biggest problem with new year goal setting is that the way we articulate it is distant.  You choose something that seems “big” – a substantial task that you estimate will take you the entire year to complete.

Distant = Never Going to Happen

With the process of “I’m going to” or “this year I will” comes a huge problem – the lack of urgency.

You see, the traditional resolution is something that doesn’t HAVE to start now.

As a result it can wait.

And it does.

In fact, it waits so long that you end up making the same resolution year, after year, after year.

Just in case you think I’m in favour of rushing into things blind – I’m not anti-planning, and I’m not anti-goals.  I spend plenty of time strategising and planning many things in my life, and I’ve certainly got my goals for this year.  But what I don’t do is use my planning as an excuse for inactivity, which is generally where people fall off the rails.

The Solution to Stupid Goals

Instead of saying “this year I’m going to….” you need to change the language.

Sure – have a big goal or aspiration somewhere in your mind (I’m all in favour of visualising the end before the beginning) – but that should NOT be your action plan.

Trying saying this instead: “today I am going to do X”.

Perhaps you want to build a bigger network this year?  Well don’t start the year with “I’m going to focus on building a bigger network this year” – that does nothing.  Instead, right NOW, pick up the phone and call Mr Smith, who you haven’t spoken to in a few months, and see how he’s going.  Or book yourself in for a coffee with Ms Jones to catch up about her life.

See the difference?

Setting a year-end goal of itself does nothing, and yet that it where most people begin and end their aspirations.  By setting the goal and dwelling on it for a few months, we fool ourselves into thinking that we are achieving something.

Don’t let new year resolutions trick you into thinking that you have accomplished anything – until you actually do something, you’re just pretending.

So with that in mind – what are you going to do tomorrow?  Write it down in the comments, and make it real.

Happy Lawyering!


  • Enjoyed this article. Practical advice that can actually be put into immediate practise, as opposed to many of the more theoretical articles found elsewhere, where it is all very good in theory, but gives no practical direction to implement.

  • I’m going to keep working on developing my health law practice,e.g.reading articles and books and taking my CLEs. And I’m going to make a point of making contact with my “contacts” (no matter how much it scares me!)

    • Sounds great Isabel. Can I encourage you to define what “having a health law practice” looks like? That way you can set some more specific and tangible goals, and give yourself more of a road map to achieving it.

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